It is hard to believe that few weeks have already passed by, since my Dad (Tato – in Ukrainian) passed away.
It is always very difficult for those who stay behind, to deal with such sad times in our life, losing a loved one, no matter how young, or old they were.
Time heals wounds. Faith in God, prayers, support from family and friends, and sweet memories of the good times we shared together with our departed loved one, keep us moving forward.
Today, I would like to pay tribute to my Dad; to reminisce about some of the things he enjoyed in his life, and to share them with you, through pictures.
These are my parents on their Wedding Day, 63 years ago.
This is a Ukrainian Catholic Church, in Dobra, Ukraine (now Poland), where my Father was Baptized. It has been renovated after World War II, and became a Polish church. The leaning cross by the fence, is part of a Ukrainian Cemetery, where many of our family members are buried.
My Father loved domesticated pigeons, and as long as I can remember, he always had a bunch of them. These birds could be annoying in the city, but in the suburbs, they make a quite entertaining pet.
My Dad loved horses. These horses reminded me of the way a Bride and Groom used to ride on their Wedding Day, as my parents did too.
He liked fishing, but he really enjoyed beekeeping. The above pictured bee hives are in my brother-in-law’s back yard, with whom my dad loved sharing his beekeeping expertise.
My Dad’s life had numerous ups and downs, growing up without a father, who passed away when my Dad was 5 years old. There were 5 children left behind, with the oldest being 12, and the youngest only few weeks old. My Dad became to “stand in” father for his youngest sister.
My Dad worked hard to help his mom to carry on, as she never remarried, but he also knew how to forget his sorrows, and enjoy life.
He loved to read, dance, participate in plays, play various instruments, and most of all, he loved singing. I was the lucky one to inherit some of his traits.
In the picture above, at the age of 88, he is doing very well keeping up with some intricate steps of a traditional Ukrainian Kolomeyka dance , with these young ladies who are more than 60 years younger than him. He felt very young at heart!
In the pictures above, my Dad is reliving his younger years, watching these artists perform, and remembering the days when he was singing, and playing these instruments, at numerous weddings and plays.
My Dad would always sing me at least one song, during our phone conversations. If I was worried about something, he would say “let me sing you a song”, and at an instant would come up with an uplifting song for me.
The last song he sang to me will never cease to resonate in my mind, and my heart. Little I knew this would be our last song, so here is a link to this song, if you would like to hear it.
Four years ago, I was very lucky to spend a considerable amount of time with my Dad, here in the US, while he was visiting with my sister, brother, and sister-in-law.
It was a very lucky year for all of us, here in the US, since he was also able to attend a Christening of his great-granddaughter, and a wedding of his grandson.
He was such a good sport, walking everywhere with us, while visiting Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York City.
The above picture is of my Dad in Washington DC, next to the monument of his favorite Ukrainian Poet, Taras Shevchenko.
He felt very connected, being able to enter the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Philadelphia, as seen above. He longed for the Ukrainian community life, and its church, since he was not able to enjoy these freely where he lived.
I will end this short journey of sweet memories of my Dad, with my favorite picture of him, taken in our back yard, while he was anchoring a young walnut tree, to protect if from wind damage.
This tree was gifted to us by my uncle, my father’s younger brother, whom my Dad had not seen for 70 years, from the day his little brother was taken by the Germans to a Forced Labor Camp in Germany, during World War II, until this day. It was a very moving meeting of the two brothers, to say the least. Who would have thought this was their first, and last visit together.
During my last few conversations with my Dad, he expressed pride in the decision he made few decades ago, assisting me with immigrating to US, alone, as a young teenager, and starting new life in a free country.
Living a free man, was something he always longed for, and tried to achieve several times, but unfortunately was never able to realize this dream.
DYAKUYU TOBI TATO!
(THANK YOU DAD!)
Vichnaya Tobi Pamyat.
(May You Rest in Eternal Peace)